The Bronx, NYC – The Multicultural Music Group, a long-standing non-profit based in The Bronx, New York, has made conversations on diaspora and struggles in the United States possible through their XVII Multicultural Music Encounters (MME). This year, the MME discussed the contributions of three different groups: Latin Americans, African Americans, and Jewish Americans on three different occasions.
On their first concert, on March 27th, the organization celebrated the Latin America diaspora with an in-depth discussion of Puerto Ricans and Dominicans and their mark in New York City.
Dr. Luis Mojica, executive director of the MMG, engaged in a conversation withspecialists Dr. Ian Seda, who spoke on behalf of Puerto Ricans, and Dr. Edward Paulino, who made some eye-opening remarks on Dominicans. The conversation on
Puerto Ricans happened almost seven months after hurricane María devastated the island. The migratory wave produced after it was at the center of the discussion as many Puerto Ricans, left out of much-needed resources, had to leave their country to seek for better opportunities in the United States.
On the other hand, on May 25th, African Americans were portrayed through symphonic pieces and spoken word. Composer Bruce Purse’s piece, The Afrikan Suite, was performed graciously by the MMG Orchestra. This specific composition is deeply related to civil rights and the Black Lives Matter movement, aspect to which artists and educators Erika Castro and Loreli Mojica responded to through a performance that was directed by Venezuelan actress and singer, Mariangélica Ayala.
This artistic spoken word served as a connecting point to the rest of the issues that were addressed throughout the night and definitely set out a clear pattern as to what’s the purpose of these concerts: to have an open forum to speak about the dispossessed communities that shape the United States in current times.
Consequently, on the final concert on June 15th, the MMG went over the contributions of the Jewish American community. After a conversation with Michael Spierman, Bronx Symphony Orchestra and Bronx Opera conductor, and retired professor, the night reached its peak with the interpretation of the internationally renowned Rhapsody in Blue.
The piece had a piano performance by Dominican musician Mr. Wesley Reynoso. Mr. Reynoso was born in La Isabela, Dominican Republic, and has studied at the Instituto de Música Sagrada in San Juan, Puerto Rico; The French Conservatory; Harlem School of the Arts; Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. Reynoso has played alongside some of the greatest musicians in the industry including: salsa greats like Alfredo De La Fe, Rey De La Paz, Paquito Guzmán, Herman Olivera, and Héctor Tricoche; and jazz greats like James Carter, Café Da Silva, Romero Lubambo, Paul Keller, Joe Lovano, Steve Turre, and Antonio Sanchez.
Being one of the most prominent NYC pianists today, this moment of the evening was one of the most exciting and stimulating parts of the whole series of 2018. Also, the brilliant participation of the Symphonic Youth Orchestra of the MMG was a definite highlight of each concert of the XVII MME. Seeing the musicians of the future alongside respected professional ones gave a strong message about the non-profit’s purpose in education in New York City.
All the events were live streamed and the videos are available on MMG’s official Facebook page for the MME.
This review was produced by Camila Frías Estrada in collaboration with Wilfredo José Burgos Matos, correspondent in The Bronx.